An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

November 25, 2008

A Different Kind of Turkey

This past Saturday we took our friend Chris to the other side of Suffolk to pick up her family's Thanksgiving turkey from Full Quiver Farms. This was no ordinary supermarket turkey, this was a humanely treated, free range, hormone and anti-biotic free bird. Besides turkeys, Full Quiver sells chicken, eggs, pork, beef and raw milk. All of the animals are treated the same way as the turkeys. They also grow organic produce and use no chemical fertilizers, preferring compost and an abundant supply of manure (I wonder where they get it?). However, their greatest efforts go into raising their full quiver of nine children. The thought of this number of children is staggering to me, raising one child is trying enough. When we were there all of the children, but the very youngest were busy either tending customers or tending animals.

Snickers' belly was swollen with kid(s).
This old RV was full of chickens. One group would clamor into the front door and another group would bolt out the backdoor to take their turn running around the yard, then tired with that they would start the whole exchange over again rushing in the front door.

Remind you of anyone?
I would have liked to have taken a picture of a turkey, but the only ones around were already "dressed" for dinner and not very photogenic.

This trip to Full Quiver and today's holiday naturally have me thinking about food. I like to eat (perhaps a little too much) and consider myself an omnivore. I think that if you are going to eat meat, you need to be mindful of where and what it comes from, and how it gets to your table. My family usually includes some kind of wild game on the holiday table, but not everyone likes to eat venison, duck, rabbit or seafood. For some it is a matter of taste, but for others they don't like the thought of hunting and eating wild animals. I ask my wife that if you have no problem eating a hamburger or a piece of ham, why would you have a problem with game? Which scenario is better, a factory raised animal destined from birth for the table, or a free and wild animal taking its chances with fate? If I was the animal, I would prefer to be served with a side order of fate. In our house we go to no regularly efforts to make sure what we eat is local or organic. Right now I am OK with that, but perhaps we can start making some changes. I have noticed that most major supermarkets in our area are now carrying a bigger selection of organics and will also identify local grown or local raised where possible. I have also been pleased to see that this largely rural state now has more and more farmers markets popping up. There are lots of changes afoot in the food world, and today is a good day to reflect on that.

I am grateful for all of the abundance that is my life, not just what's on the table today.


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  2. Great post, Les! I enjoyed seeing the farm photos and the thought you put into your meal before it reaches the table.

    We try to buy meat and produce from local farmers. It's worth keeping in mind that sometimes small farms can't afford to meet the regulations to be certified organic, like feeding all organic food to their livestock, but if they are treating the animals well, not using hormones and pesticides, that's good enough for me. I always think local, organic food tastes better too.

    I like the personal connection. I remember asking the farmer how many pounds our "medium" turkey would be. His response was, "Well, he's still eatin' and runnin' so hard to say."

    Book you might like would be the Omnivore's Dilemma.

  3. We've been trying to buy our meat from the farmer's market as much as possible, from farmers who let their pigs, chickens, and cattle live a good life. I'm not bothered by eating another creature, but it does bother me when I hear of animals being treated inhumanely. We haven't gone completely free range yet, but we're working on it. Hey, by the way, Les when you get a minute, could you update your link to my new blog location? Thanks!

  4. Sarah,
    I loved the farmer's comment and I guess your turkey must have been very fresh. Thank you for the recommendation. I just cracked open Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable or Miracle. Not only is it about food, but it has a Virginia connection.

    Glad you are posting again, and consider your request done.


  5. Hi, Les--I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and I'm sorry I missed this posting (I had my mind too much on food, I guess). It's great to know about Full Quiver farms--we buy at our farmer's market in the summer, but they don't operate as often in the winter. Anyway, we enjoyed our free range turkey--I hope you enjoyed yours!

  6. Our turkey was delicious. It said free range but I'm not sure I trust that. I couldn't tell any difference in the taste from last year's brand. I didn't grow a third leg being raised by parents who really didn't know about such things. The main reason I support local is so the money stays local..I'm not convinced it's the most healthy.

    I love those chickens running to and fro. They are really funny to watch. But if you put on the label that they were raised most of their life in a 60's steel aluminum tailer that was made of treated plywood and plastic pvc's, would it still look as tasty? Doesn't that cancel out the good? I would buy their camper chicks if it was fat and juicy.

  7. Les,

    Fantastic photos and the chickens make me laugh...they are such chickens. The pigs are too too funny! I never acquired a taste for game, even goat can be strong to me...but I agree with your thinking and want always to be mindful of the whats, wheres and hows of my food. I pay a bit more but it's worth it! gail

  8. Cosmo,
    What farmers market to you go to? We had the one here in Norfolk just move to a larger location. On my first visit I was not overly impressed, but I am willing to give it another try. I have always enjoyed to one in Va. Beach, but it is not exactly around the corner.

    Thanks for stopping by. I could have watched the camper chicks all day if it was not so bitter cold. Perhaps running in and out was t their way of keeping warm, taking shifts in the cold then the warm.

    I can honestly say I have never eaten any goat, unless you count the milk in cheese form. If it tastes anything like lamb, count me in.